Today we celebrate 70 years of the NHS. And all the people in this article have a big reason to say thank you, as none of them would be here today without the care of the NHS.
For Bill Smith, watching his great-grandchildren play has a special pleasure - as it’s a time he nearly didn’t live to see.
Diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2008, Bill, 78, from Euxton, received cutting edge treatment on the NHS.
Today, as our National Health Service turns 70 years old, he wants to say thank you for the extra 10 years and the chance to meet his great grandchildren.
He said: “I never expected to watch my grandchildren grow up, never mind the great ones. To see these two is just lovely.”
In December 2008, the former Leyland Motors worker of 28 years, who used to go on regular 10 miles walks around Chorley, Rivington and Winter Hill, was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“Over the years I remember doctors saying to me we don’t see you very often, so it was a really rough and emotional time for us,” Bill explained.
“I did not realise the extent of what was going to happen.”
Doctors were quick to act and operated on him in February 2009, followed by lengthy chemotherapy treatment at the Rosemere Cancer Centre in Royal Preston Hospital.
But what doctors hadn’t told Bill was that there were signs of secondary cancer forming in his left lung.
Former Post Office worker Bill explained that the radiotherapy was “very, very strong” to target the secondary cancer that was, unbeknownst to him, closely being monitored.
After receiving the all clear thanks to Rosemere’s centre at RPH, Bill was told about the growth in his lung in August 2009.
He explained: “I went for my last chemotherapy check up and was told that’s it for the bowel cancer but that I was being referred to Blackpool for secondary cancer as it had started to grow. It needed to get out of there.”
For Bill, the news, after getting what he thought would be the all clear, was devastating.
“It was gutting. Very gutting,” Bill said.
“But there was a man at hospital who said to me, ‘Have they said you will die tomorrow?’. I said, ‘No’, and he said, ‘Get on with it then’. He was brilliant. Very motivating.
“My words to the surgeon when I first went were, ‘What are we going to do about it then?’ and he said that’s exactly what he wanted to hear. Not him but you and me.
“I thought, ‘The little beggar is not getting me’.”
In February 2010, Bill had surgery to remove the growth in his lung at Blackpool Victoria Hospital – which was successful.
And last August he was told by the NHS he has the all clear, something Bill puts down to his good health over the years.
He and wife Barbara now have the pleasure of watching their great grandchildren Laila, seven, and Isabella, four, grow up.
“I never expected to watch my grandchildren grow up, never mind the great ones. To see these two is just lovely.”
Speaking of the NHS and Rosemere, Bill said: “They have saved my life. Simple as We have five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
“We’ve in fact got to look after the younger two this afternoon doing the school run!
“My motto is now to get up, go out and enjoy life.”